Insight into Parkinson’s: “join us as we make history”

Interviews

Author: Simge Eva DoganPublished: 14 March 2019

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Melissa McConaghy

We spoke to Melissa McConaghy, the founder of ‘Insight into Parkinson’s’ – the world’s largest online Parkinson’s summit. Melissa discusses her own connection to the condition, the exciting plans for this year’s event – and how she plans to raise AUS$1 million


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a specialist neurological physiotherapist from Australia, and I’ve been treating people with Parkinson’s for over 18 years. Last year, I founded ‘Insight into Parkinson’s’, the largest ever online forum dedicated to people living with the condition. Our second event will take place on 11 April (World Parkinson’s Day), and we’ve already got more than 50 world-class speakers lined up.

I’m also the founder of PD Warrior – a neuro-active exercise programme for people with Parkinson’s, which is available both online and across 70 locations.

Why did you start working with people with Parkinson’s? 

Although I never met him, my grandfather died from Parkinson’s-related complications in the 1960s. This was before levodopa was widely available in rural Australia.

For that reason, Parkinson’s has always interested me. It wasn’t until the last five years, however, after a complete paradigm shift in how we approach the treatment, that I felt I could make a significant difference to people’s quality of life.

What is the ‘Insight into Parkinson’s’ summit?

The ‘Insight into Parkinson’s’ summit is the largest online Parkinson’s conference in the world, bringing together up to 10,000 people from the global Parkinson’s community.

What’s unique about this conference is that it can be accessed anywhere and at any time. It also costs a fraction of the price of attending a regular international conference, and without the logistical challenges.

Attendees can watch live presentations as they are broadcasted, and then revisit them in their own time. In addition, any ticket sale profits and donations will be going towards our charity/not-for-profit partners.

Our list of speakers includes Professor Bastiaan Bloem, consultant neurologist at Radboud University Medical Center, Netherlands; Emma Lawton, a prominent UK writer and blogger; and Erin Smith, who invented the Parkinson’s diagnosis tool FacePrint, aged only 18.

Melissa McConaghy

What inspired you to launch the summit?

In today’s technological world, patients want more than just to be able to Google their symptoms. They want to connect with experts around the world, engage with health activists and be part of a global audience. Digital health communities are growing fast, and the online summit will bring everything together in one place and on a scale never seen before.

Last year’s event proved two things to us. Firstly, that people with Parkinson’s and their families want information about the condition delivered this way. And secondly, high-profile academics, researchers, clinicians and influencers working in the field of Parkinson’s are excited to take part and deliver their findings at the conference.

What are you most looking forward to at the summit?

I am most looking forward to hearing the presentations and watching the community develop. We are so proud of the speakers presenting in the programme.

This year, we will also have an additional health professionals’ online stream to further encourage networking. It will offer an easier way to discuss the clinical implications of the presentations.

How is the summit supporting Parkinson’s charities/not-for-profit organisations?

We’re helping our eight charity/not-for-profit partners to raise approximately AUS$1 million, which will go towards support services, education and research.

Our partners this year are the European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA), Parkinson’s Australia, Shake It Up Foundation Australia, Parkinson’s UK, Parkinson’s NZ, Parkinson’s Association of Ireland, PDMDS India, and the Cutler Foundation.

Each one of our charity partners have been selected for their tireless work in the Parkinson’s community and we look forward to supporting them in the future.

Our target is ambitious and we’re going to need the global community to help us achieve it by buying tickets for the event. We are asking you all to join us as we make history!

Melissa McConaghy


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